A future and a hope: Trusting God while job searching

During a difficult job transition a few years ago, I had to be proactive while also trusting God. At first, it seemed like a paradox. I’m an overachiever, so I’m used to doing things on my own. It took some time for me to let the Holy Spirit into my decision-making process. God provided in some unexpected ways — not just taking care of physical needs, but also helping me to trust him with my future. This process doesn’t guarantee a “dream job,” but it can open our hearts to involving God in our big decisions and trusting him to provide for our hearts as we take our next steps.

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Are you preparing for an upcoming move, hoping to leave a toxic workplace, reentering the workplace after time away, or looking for changes in your professional life? Involving the Holy Spirit in your job search can give you hope and direction.

1. Make a (secret) promise to yourself and to God

Whatever your reason for job searching, I recommend making a promise to yourself and to God: I promise that I will work toward finding a job with (a healthier office environment, more flexible schedule, sufficient provision for my family’s needs, responsibilities that align with my morals, opportunities to pursue my goals, etc.).

If you are currently in a situation that negatively impacts your mental and spiritual health, knowing your decision is official doesn’t stop the suffering, but it can give you hope. “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope” (Jer 29:11).

2. Find your calling (even if it’s not related to work)

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit” (1 Cor 12:4).

Journal and pray about responsibilities and activities you enjoy. Not what you’re good at — but what brings you joy. Maybe these are work-related activities, or family-related, or a hobby, or volunteering.

Maybe you notice a pattern: you love “solving difficult problems” or “helping others achieve their goals” or “soaking in nature’s beauty” or “praising the Lord” or “nurturing and cherishing others.” What is the core of what you love to do? This could be God’s calling to you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart to your calling. This can change over time, so focus on where God is calling you in the present moment.

Our culture is too obsessed with finding your passion at work and monetizing our hobbies, so keep an open mind about the role your job may or may not play in your calling from the Holy Spirit. Maybe the next step involves a job that directly addresses your calling, or maybe it involves a job that allows you to live your calling outside the workplace.

I recommend involving a spiritual director as you reflect. If you don’t regularly meet with a director, contact your local parish to see if they can recommend someone to meet with you. A wise outside perspective can help you to find clarity and hear the Holy Spirit’s call to you.

3. Pray about boundaries and needs

“With all vigilance guard your heart, for in it are the sources of life” (Prov 4:23).

Even a job that empowers you to live your calling will negatively impact your spiritual health if your boundaries are not respected. Your dignity is just as important as those you serve. Write a list of needs: bathroom breaks, lunch breaks, scheduling needs, honesty from management, documentation time, etc. Be very specific, and take your health and personality into account. A therapist can be really helpful here!

4. Figure out your budget

Pray about your financial needs. If you are married or supporting other family members, include your spouse/family in this discernment. What is the minimum you can make while still meeting your basic physical, mental and spiritual health needs?

5. Set aside at 10-15 minutes a day

This may be the hardest part. It takes resolve to spend 10-15 minutes a day searching for a job. But I promise you, it’s worth it. Set a timer. Put on some relaxing music. Ask St. Anthony of Padua to intercede for you and help you find the right path. (St. Anthony is one of the fastest and kindest intercessors I’ve ever encountered!) And do some searching.

Search both for jobs that are similar to your current one and for jobs that are completely different but allow you to live your core calling (even if only by giving you freedom outside of work hours). Try some wild job searches, jobs you dreamed of as a child but never pursued. Also search for alternate career paths for someone with your experiences.

Look also at companies that aren’t actively hiring. My current day job wasn’t listed; I emailed them on a whim because their website looked promising.

Read job descriptions carefully. If the description already breaks your boundaries, move on. If you aren’t sure, save it to a list. It can’t hurt to apply and find out the job isn’t a good fit. Some days you may find several jobs you like, and other days you may find nothing. Allow God to work in his time.

6. Write a resume/cover letter and apply

Schedule a few 30-minute sessions each week to work on your resume and cover letters.

Ask God to show you how awesome you are. Read Psalm 139 — the whole psalm.

Then craft a resume/cover letter that allows you to apply to the jobs you saved during this week’s searching.

When you apply, pray before and after hitting that “submit” button. “[A]nd in Your book were written all the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them” (Ps 139:16b).

7. Repeat steps 5 and 6

This process may take several weeks or even months before you find yourself interviewing, depending on your situation. Whenever you do have an interview, don’t lose sight of your core calling, your boundaries and your financial needs. It’s OK to turn down a job if it raises red flags or if you get an uncomfortable feeling during the interview. The Holy Spirit sometimes leads us via intuition.

It’s also OK if the next job isn’t perfect or isn’t a “dream job.” In our secular society, careers may seem like a part of who we are, but we aren’t defined by what we do. God often calls us on adventures with twists and turns. Be patient with yourself and with the Lord.

Have hope. The Holy Spirit will guide you as you take your next steps. He cares about you so deeply. He’s got your back.

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